23 April 2007

Kirin = Kicking!

Indeed, Kirin is one kicking beer... a high flying, acrobatic, goat hooved, horn-tastic kick. I figured I'd give it a rest with the Belgian whites for awhile, and celebrate this fantastically refreshing Japanese brew. Oddly enough, I had it for the first time in Paris, but at least it was at Saporo, a japanese restaurant near the Opera. It's light crisp taste, totally wetted my whistle, and left a wonderfully clean after taste.

I admit, I could not find too much of a backstory to the brewery itself, but was able to find out a few facts. The first Kirin beer factory was established in Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama in 1907 with help from Thomas Glover, the Scottish trader. God bless the Scotts. The brewery had originally been founded as Spring Valley Brewery in 1870, by the Norwegian-American William Copeland, but misfortune was headed his way. In 1872 Copeland left Yokohama temporarily to search for a bride in Norway; later, he returned with his wife, but she died in 1879. Shortly thereafter Copeland, who seemed dogged by misfortune, found that he lacked the necessary capital to improve and expand the business. By 1884 he had closed the brewery and sailed for the United States.

A year later W.H. Talbot and E. Abbott, both foreign entrepreneurs, entered into partnership with two Japanese businessmen, Yonosuke Iwasaki and Eiichi Shibusawa, to reopen Copeland's brewery. With sound financial backing, the newly formed Japan Brewery Company, Ltd. soon became a profitable enterprise. By 1888, all of its beer carried the "Kirin" label. According to ancient Chinese legend, the Kirin, which is half horse and half dragon, heralds good fortune to those able to catch a glimpse of it. Under the name Japan Brewery Company the company continued and combined with Meiji-ya to market Kirin Beer for the first time in 1888.

With more than 100 years of experience in the brewing business, Kirin now applies its fermentation technology to areas such as plant genetics, pharmaceuticals, and bioengineering. Although brewing and related businesses remain the core of Kirin's activities, the company is also involved in several other sectors: hard liquor, wine, soft drinks, and food products, logistics, engineering, real-estate and restaurants. Another reason for me to think that beer rules the world. Known as canned “chu-hi” in Japan, Kirin produces a range hit canned alcoholic beverages based on ingredients including brown rice tea, green tea and wheat based grain spirit. The portfolio of brands includes Kirin Lager and Ichiban Shibori, as well as Kirin Tanrei happo-shu (low-malt) beer. Kirin Light boast 95 calories per bottle too!

So what the heck is a kirin? It's a bitching looking monster with the head of a dragon, body of a deer, serpent's scales instead of hair, tail of an ox, hooves of a goat and a small, fleshy horn protruding from its forehead. It is a gentle, shy creature that will not harm anything unless it feels threatened. What a cool name that would be to give to someone. "Mommy? Why did you pick the name Kirin?" "Well... let me tell you a story..."

I was also recently told that when pronounced phonetically in the japanese language, kirin also means giraffe! I think I fancy a beer giraffe of Kirin right now!

*sidenote: I don't know what this says, but the Kirin Beer University looks the awesomest. A wicked fun website.

Illustration Friday: Polar

First, is a spread from the arctic tale Loony Little. An obvious example of the word polar. Inspiration for the whole book came from Rockwell Kent's arctic series. He was my absolutely savior when it creating artwork for this book.

But sencondly, I always thought of an attitude when I heard the word polar. I think of icey-stares from dark eyed beauties. Woo woo!

21 April 2007

Drawn! Revoy-style.

Fellow Shybird member, Antoine Revoy has been featured on Drawn! Antoine will be featured in Freistil's 2007 edition, a yearly collaboration of over 200 European creatives. Check out his site to see more. Guaranteed to knock your socks off, even if you aren't wearing any.

17 April 2007

Illustration Friday: Fortune 2

Because I am so tired of doing safe, suckass too close to reality crap. And I know it's the product of me doing generic bullshit for companies that tell me my artwork was "disappointing". Too bad I can't tell them that their product is second rate eBay foder. They could only be so lucky to be that. Sorry. I just need to start making artwork that I like. It's the only way I actually can convince myself to stay in this business. It's so hard to be positive 100% and always have blog entries all perky and inspirational about a new piece you made today. No. I reidd this one out of sheer anger. You might see this drawing a few more times until I suck out it's venom.

16 April 2007

Illustration Friday: Fortune

A fortune of knowledge and insight brings brillance in craft.

12 April 2007

Desert for Dessert

Through recent discussion with fellow swamped illustrators, the topic of experimentation surfaced. I seriously couldn't remember the last time I sat down and just drew... whatever I wanted. After a mildly frustrating day, I took a long walk/hobble with what is left of the knee, and decided that tonight, I am having my metaphorical piece of cake. And it was wondrous! I sat down and started just drawing. A favorite pastime of years ago was to draw off the top of my head while watching random documentaries on television. It's great, every time you look up, you see beautiful scenery or nutty creatures, and while you are busily sketching, you listen to all the fun facts and new words to file away in your memory for the next family match of trivial pursuit. Tonight, I watched probably the most beautifully directed photography I have ever seen in documentaries. I HIGHLY suggest Discovery Channel's Planet Earth Series. More than five years in the making, this series chronicles all the world's regions, temperatures, creatures, and challenges, and it is soooooo pretty. It's on my wish list now.

So the following image was a product of tonight's break from all things not art directed by myself.

11 April 2007

Baby Steps

Just a quick post, sticking my head up from the drowning waters. I feel so ashamed I have not given you guys a good beer review... in months! I promise, one is coming soon. If the workload keeps up at this pace, my works won't even be intelligible. Is that a word?

Here is a step by step process of a recent painting. I thought I'd show the slow progression into color. It's a matter of translucent layers, shifting back and forth between meaty color and fortifying tonal structure. This following image is with oils and acrylic, instead of my normal watercolor and acrylic. The fumes dull the studio aggression.


tonal layer

finish (pardon the poor scan)

Ugggh, back to the ol' drawing board.

04 April 2007

And They're Off!

Tomorrow, April 5th, 2007, my seventh picture book Gallop O' Gallop will jolt from the starting gate and onto the shelves in a bookstore near you! Written by Sandra Alonzo and published by Dial Book for Young Readers, I hope this book finds a special place in your own personal library. Reach way back, to the days you'd run around with your friends pretending you were Swift Wind from She-Ra and neighing furiously through the playground... shoot... that was just me, wasn't it. Uuugh, well regardless we all love horses and the beauty and strength they embody. I am postitive the poems collected in this book will inspire your own inner Swift Wind!

Buy Gallop O' Gallop here!

Here's a picture my dad took way back when I first started to ride. This was taken shortly after years of daily heckling to let me take lessons. Look at that fine horsemanship! Now, years out of practice, I doubt I can even put a foot in the stirrup. Still won't stop my new dream vacation of Mongolia on horseback!

03 April 2007

Malajube YouTube

Through the filter of friends, Anne-Marie showed me this link the other night and I was thrilled! Not only did I find a new band to collect albumns from, but I got remotivated to bust my hump on my own animation goal and Shybird Studio. The simply drawn characters are so sweet and the simple camera pan transcends all of those mundane adjectives. Malajube is an indie rock band based in Montréal, Québec, Canada. The band has two albums out on Dare to Care Records.

A group of high school friends from Sorel, Quebec, the band made itself known in 2004 with the release of its first album, Le Compte complet. Critics welcomed the disc with positive reviews, which allowed the group to become instantly famous in the Québécois music scene. Several of its songs, such as "Le Métronome" and "La Valérie", were prominent mainstays on several Québec radio stations. For the production of the album, the group turned to Martin Pelland from fellow Montreal band The Dears.

On October 17, 2006, Malajube released their CD Trompe-l’œil in the U.S. They also participated in the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City on November 2, 2006. Visit the band's website to learn more.

01 April 2007

Enter the Dragon

So, back from France... very sad, but still looking forward to spring. NOT looking forward to the amount of work that is here. I have been motoring away for the ninth picture book, entiteld Hush, Little Dragon (Harry N. Abrams). I am using the oil medium instead of the watercolor now, and it's giving me a much softer look... I think I like it? There have been so many paintings in the last few weeks that I don't know what's what anymore. There she goes! "Would you like some cheese with that whine?"

Also here is another spread from Brand New Baby Blues... near completion... 2.5 years later.